Twenty nine of them now. Twenty nine times that I’ve been taken back to that cold, snowy morning. The two-year-old whisked from her bed and taken next door. The car, the ambulance, the pain. The operating theatre – and then, “It’s a boy!” said the midwife. “We don’t have boys in my family,” I said. “You do now!” said the doctor. And I marvelled, instantly in love – my perfect wee son. And every 17th of January, I’m taken right back there to marvel once more. Happy Birthday, son.
It’s a 580 mile round trip from Skye to Edinburgh so we wouldn’t normally go just for the weekend. The narrow, winding, Highland roads and the bad joke that is the A9 make it a demanding drive at the best of times – but at the end of a tiring week at work it’s a daunting prospect.
However, just after four p.m. last Friday the husband and I set off for a weekend in the capital. A couple of hours into the journey, we stopped at the Little Chef at Spean Bridge for something to eat. Fortified by tasty and filling fare – hunter’s chicken (husband) and steak pie (me) – and two good cups of tea each we were on our way south again before seven o’clock.
By nine thirty we were sitting in our son’s flat catching up with his and his girlfriend’s news.
The weekend was all about Saturday. I had quite a day. It was my birthday so it began with opening cards and presents. Then I had the optician and the hairdresser to get to before I could go to the first main event of the day. By eleven thirty a.m. I was in a taxi – a few hundred pounds poorer having ordered new specs – and sporting a flattering new hairstyle – on my way to Edinburgh’s south side for a special lunch.
The Edinburgh Writers’ Club lunch for country members – i.e. members who live too far away from Edinburgh to attend the fortnightly meetings – is laid on every August by members of the committee. It takes place in the home of one of the committee members – this year it was at Angela’s. I’ve never managed to attend before but at the beginning of this year I resolved to make the effort to go. And I’m SO glad I did.
The committee had laid on a beautiful buffet and it was such a lovely, sunny day that the party spilled out into the garden. It was good to meet up with Elaine, Kate, Anne and Sheila again (to name but a few). It was so nice to talk writing with other dedicated scribblers, to pick up tips and to share the joys and frustrations of our craft.
I was also presented with a book token and the Alanna Knight trophy for winning this year’s Writing for Children competition. The trophy is a pretty, little, silver quaich (a traditional Scottish communal drinking cup) and I’m so proud to have won it. Several of the lunch guests told me how well the judge, children’s writer, Lari Don, read out my wee story and how much she said she’d enjoyed it. I wish I could have been present on adjudication night – but this was absolutely the next best thing!
And so having enjoyed such warm hospitality and stimulating, writerly chat I made my way back to son’s flat. There I was greeted by the husband who produced a surprise birthday cake. So in spite of the lunch I’d just tucked into, I had to have coffee and cake. This was then trumped by son’s girlfriend who’d made that most delectable and sweet Scottish confection – tablet – for the first time and had put some into a little birthday bag, complete with pink ribbon and tag, as part of my pressie from her and the boy. I had to save the sampling of this for later.
To round of a wonderful day, me, the husband, son and girlfriend, daughter and boyfriend went across the street to ‘Dino’s Diner’ – the local bar-restaurant – and were joined there by more friends and family for a most relaxed evening of good food, drink and great craic.
What a fab birthday!
Sunday was an early start for the long drive home. By the time we got back to Skye, I was ready for a weekend to recover from the one I’d just had. All in all it was exhausting – but so worth it. And the verdict on the tablet – scrumptious!